A preview of the Miami Dolphins defense

Nov 13, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Miami Dolphins middle linebacker Kiko Alonso (47) defends San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) during the second quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 13, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Miami Dolphins middle linebacker Kiko Alonso (47) defends San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) during the second quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

New Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke is said to be keeping everything the same as last season. But there could be some changes that will be covered here.

There is word circulating that this will be a zone defense based on speed. And while it is just speculation I will run with it and try to break down how the Miami Dolphins might implement it.

A few things we know from Burke’s pressers is wanting to sub out any linebackers at any position. Gase had also stated something like this saying that because of the nickel defense almost anyone could be playing middle linebacker.

More from Dolphins News

And because of these statements along with shoring up the DE and CB positions and adding depth there the speculations seem to fall into place. I had felt that FS and DT were bigger needs but projecting this change sort of makes sense.

Having fuller rooms at these positions and rotating players would set up keeping players more fresh so they could keep up the speed aspect. Looking back at something former Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph always keyed on was having an attacking or aggressive defense. Which also speaks of what might be coming. Only in Joesph’s case he didn’t have all the tools needed and injuries further hampered those plans.

The groundwork Joesph laid down will be built upon and at first was said not to change. But later on Burke and Gase would let on to some tweaks to be made. One has to wonder with Joesph having so much insight to the inner workings he might let some secrets slip out to his league networking.

Speed is the key and as the saying goes “speed kills”. As in killing any plans the opposing offense might have in trying to go downfield. There should be an internal clock in most QB’s heads that count out to 2.5 seconds. This is the average amount of time a QB has before defensive pressure becomes a problem.

This is also the same amount of time the defense should be getting to the QB. And while they did play slightly better than average over their opponents last season in sacks and fumbles caused. The Miami Dolphins defense could have been better at fumbles recovered.

Where they did shine was defensive pressures were they led the league. And with the addition of first round pick Charles Harris to help keep the other DE’s in the room more fresh the extra sacks and fumble recoveries could follow.

The nemesis of this style of play is teams that favor the underneath on offense where they have a system and QB in place to get the ball out more quickly. Under these circumstances when QB pressure becomes less effective it can be taxing on the LB’s. This is where the addition of second round pick Raekwon McMillan comes in handy.

Looking deeper into what might come around mid-season is the debut of safety T.J. McDonald assuming Nate Allen would hold the fort down. And here lies the rub; McDonald is no FS (nether is Allen) he is more of a clone of Reshad Jones. So essentially there would be two SS playing together and adjustments in style of play would have to be made to allow for it. Not to be caught off guard these adjustments might be worked on beforehand so it goes more smoothly.

But this is something that not only affects the play of the safety. It would also change the CB and LB play if one of the safeties can’t come to a consensus on who should transition into FS or they lack the ability to do so. It would appear the most taxed would be CB’s and teams could start to try to take advantage. Although the run defense should become more stout. This also plays into getting an extra CB with the third round pick of Cordrea Tankersley.

While Gase has recently made this statement: “Both guys are able to either be down in the box or back in the middle of the field,” he said, “so anytime you’ve got interchangeable pieces that’s a good thing to have.” The fact is they are both strong safeties. Nate Allen is also one for that matter.

To be fair the system set it place is said to use a left and right safety and have them interchangeable. But someone will have to cover centerfield and someone will have to patrol the line of scrimmage hence the traditional terms SS/FS and all three players are known as previously playing SS.

So with the extra time off to start the season it could be a benefit to help get T.J. McDonald up to speed becoming more of a free safety along with Allen. McDonald even though he is suspended the first half of the season can and will participate fully in off-season training activities.

At the very least there should be good backup strong safety depth. And with any luck good free safety play as well from Allen and McDonald. And yes even previous season’s leading tackler Reshad Jones.

I was not a big fan of how this last draft played out with the order of needs. In fact I had them reversed. Although I did like the players picked. After going over the defense and what was covered here an overall plan is coming to light which makes it more favorable. And helps to make it a somewhat less bitter pill to swallow.

The other aspect of this defense that will most likely get tweaked is the wide nine. There has only been whispers so far but we might be hearing more about it soon as OTA’s and minicamp draws near.